Winnipeg, 18 to 20th July 2007

Trip Start Jun 11, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Manitoba,
Thursday, July 19, 2007

After another greyhound trip (this time in the day as we were desperate to leave Thunder Bay) we arrived in the Terminal at Winnipeg.  The journey had been made more "interesting" by the guy sat near us.  He was slightly strange and spent most of the trip talking to him self or asking folk sat around him strange questions.  I got, "what's your last name?",  when I asked why he replied, "because I know someone in UK and thought you might know them" when I told him my name he said, "nope don't know that one" .  He made us smile.  At the station Rob got chatting to two travelers Ben (UK) and Mika (Japan), they had met up in Thunder Bay (at the hostel we were supposed to stay in!); as they were staying in the HI too we shared a taxi there.
I had to do some quick phone calls to try and rejuggle our plans as Rob finally admitted that he didn't really fancy camping,  so checked we could do 2 nights in Winnipeg, then HI-Regina moved forward one day, and added extra day to HI-Calgary.  That sorted we got to our room.  It's nice, we have it as a private room, but there are 2 sets of bunk beds, shared bathroom.  This place has really old radiators in the iron ones with the raised designs on it; I bet the hostel doesn't know how valuable they are.  We dump our bags and meet Ben and Mika in the common room and set off for the curry house the guy on reception told us about... curry, curry, curry!
I'm sad to say it was a little disappointing, better than the one we had in Boston, but nowhere near as good as back home.  The company was good though, Mika had us in tucks as she found it a little difficult to understand Robert, her English is excellent but if she didn't understand what Robert said she would look an me with a quizzical expression and laugh, which set us all off, then I'd try and explain what he'd said in a different way and using sign language, we usually got there.  We showed her the sign language for going to the loo; she liked that and uses it frequently now.  Mika and I seem to have the same humor and Ben and Robert talk away all the time (not sure what about). 
From the curry house we went to a beer store in the neighborhood, it looked a little dodgy but we got in the queue anyway.  I wondered out loud if they sold wine, and a guy behind us told me that this wasn't the kind of place to sell wine, and that we'd need to go to a liquor store.  We asked if there was one nearby.   So all four of us pile into his car, he's called Michael, from Winnipeg (woohoo a real Canadian) and he takes us to the store, waits whilst we make our purchases and drives us back to the hostel!  What a really friendly guy.  He owns a pub called The Toad, just down from the liquor store. 
We sat in the common area with our drinks; I met a girl, Sula (Germany), who we'd seen in the HI-Sault Ste Marie, along with Simmone and Corinne (Swiss).  Corinne is into Simple Plan (Canadian Band, I've seen a few times with Zoe) so we chatted about that for a while, she's planning her forward trip and I told her about the backpacker tour we're doing from Calgary to Banff and Jasper, I showed her the web site and she decided to book this, although she will be on it a couple days after us.  Eventually there was just Robert, Mika, Ben & I left up and we went to bed around 2am.  After a bottle of wine each I was happily tiddly and Mika was fresh as a daisy!
Next morning we all met up in the common room, Robert, Mika, Ben & I and set off for the day.  We walked into the downtown area and had breakfast in the Princess Grill; we were asked if we had reservations, which made us giggle as it didn't look like the usual place to pre-book a table!  The food was really good here, we had the special, cream of broccoli soup, chicken fingers, fries, coleslaw (the coleslaw over here is different to UK.  I doesn't have mayo; it's just an oil dressing!) it's ok but I'd prefer my M&S premium creamy stuff! Here Robert announced in sign language that he was going for a number 2.  Mika, now knowing the sign for going for a wee, was confused and asked what this new sign meant; I could've killed him as he knew this is exactly what would happen.  How do you explain "poopoo"! I was pointing and waving my arms around, in the end we got it with a point to the front and the wee sign, and a point to the back and the poopoo sign!  She was laughing her head off when Robert came back.  I think these may become widely used throughout Japan soon!
Fortunately the Fringe Festival is currently on.  This is dedicated to the performing arts.  There are lots of shows, plays and gigs in venues all around the Exchange area running all day and evening, you just pick a play and go along pay you money ($8 each on average) and enjoy.  There is also free stuff running in the park area right in the middle of it all.  We sat on the grass, in the sun, watching two guys doing improve on the stage; the funniest thing about this was that they kept using the kids, who didn't quite get what they were trying to do.  However, good effort.  This was followed by a guy from S Africa who told a kids folk story,  I know he was trying to get the kids involved but he totally over acted the accent and the storytelling to the extent that I think he lost a lot of the kids.  We got a little fed up, so wandered into the fringe market.  Rob & Chris disappeared to chat whilst Mika & I get henna tattoos done, Mine turned out rubbish (I think the sun dried it out too fast before the henna got into my skin) it was really faint, although the pattern is nice.  Mika had a butterfly done and hers was better.  Kept being tempted to buy stuff, but had to stop myself and think of the budget and the carrying it everywhere! So to (I think) Roberts surprise, I didn't buy anything.
Disaster! My camera won't work and I can't figure out why.  I haven't dropped it or anything! Maybe the battery just needs charging up?
We left the fringe and walked to an area called the Forks, Mika tried to get us all killed by playing chicken across 12 lanes of traffic.  Then we walked under a scruffy, bird poo covered alley and came out into a beautifully landscaped open area.  We walked into the centre where a massive skateboard park had been made.     We watched kids (of all ages) until Rob saw blood, which took a surprising long time actually, some of them were really good and some were clearly just starting out, I thought we were going to have to put our first aid skills to the test though when a young boy fell off a ramp about 4 foot high, he fair hit the deck with a bang, but he jumped up and we saw him limping off.   We walked passed the wolf statues, this was the same statue but had been reproduced 6 times and each was decorated differently, they looked really good from a distance, then round to the river where a bridge, with a café on it, crosses to the French quarter.  We had walked miles today and still had to walk back, so we decided against crossing.
The weather today is glorious, proper blue skies, not a single cloud to be seen and hot but manageable.  We walked in the general direction The Toad (Mike from last night's pub).  We saw an impressive looking building and went in, it tuned out to be the Winnipeg Legislative Building.  They do tours but we'd missed them, however they let us go in and have a look around ourselves.  Is was lovely and cool, and stunning.  We felt a little self conscious walking around unguided and didn't stay long.  Outside it though is a park that has a big water feature, Mika & I b-lined, removed footwear and dipped our toes in, it was wonderfully cold.  We sat for 20 mins or so just dangling our feet in this pool.  One of the things we've noticed about the lovely Winnipeg is that the water is crap!  It tastes foisty, and even the water in the water feature had this foisty smell!
Refreshed, we set off again and found the Toad.  Michael was in, so we bought drinks and he sat with us a while, talking about how he'd come to own the place and what he'd done to improve it.  It's a smashing place and has The Caverns downstairs in which he has live bands.  We ate dinner there, proper steak & kidney pudding mmmmmm.  After a couple games of pool we headed back to the Hostel with our purchases from the liquor store.
We all sat around the common room chatting with each other and Sula and Corinne.  Later an English guy called Philip sits with us, he proceeds to guess where we are from by our accents... "North England", yes, "Yorkshire", yes, "Leeds area", Yes, very impressive, he then says I even guess around Halifax, have you heard of it?".  We were convinced he'd overheard us telling someone else but Kim (his partner) is from Sowerby Bridge!  How cool is that then?  Of course Rob and Phil get along immediately; it's that British sarcastic humor thing.  We had another really good night and find out that Sula and Corinne are getting the same bus as us to Regina tomorrow night so that will be good.
The next day (I've lost track of what day it actually is) we get up, pack and put our bags in storage.  My camera has been on charge all night and is still not working.  I check the net for repairers and there are two on the next street to us.  We hang around for Mika but we don't see her so, off we trot to the first camera shop (computech).  They guy had a look and told me the circuit board was fried and that I'd need to get a new camera! Bugger, bugger!!! Just to be sure we went to the other shop (Precision Camera Repairs).  The guy here did some checks and discovered that the memory card was corrupted and it was causing the camera to lock up.  He checked it in another machine and it locked that up too.  Yipee! The camera works with a new memory card in.  Unfortunately I have lost the photo's that were on the card but at least I don't have to buy a new camera.  So if anyone's in Winnipeg and wants their camera repairing go to Precision (and they were really friendly too).
We went back to the hostel and got our bags and a taxi to the greyhound.  We put our bags into a locker and went back to the Fringe.  The save improv guys were there again and we watched a while.  We had a look at what shows were on that day and went to see one in the afternoon called "Richard is a Dick"it was pretty amusing, the plot was quite good, the acting a bit rough, but an overall good show.  We decided to get some dinner then do another show in the evening before our bus at 11:45pm.
This show was called "Necessary Deceptions...".  This is the best show I've seen for ages, the acting was brilliant and the story took you through loads of laughs, and some very cringe making scenes.  My cheeks were aching with laughing and palms were sore from clapping at the end.
Back at the bus station we met up with Sula and Corrine, however, there was no sign of Mika (I hoped she'd gotten the afternoon bus instead and we'd see her in Regina).
See you there...................
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